St Bathans population 5
This historic mining town 7km from Lombardy Cottage sprang into life in 1863 when gold was found in the shingle of Kildare Hill near the Dunstan Creek. The rush was on and within weeks 2000 miners were sluicing the rapidly diminishing hill.
Hydraulic technology, elevating gold-bearing gravels from deep within the ground, turned the 120-metre hill into a 64-metre-deep hole. The uneconomic mine was abandoned in the 1930s and the ugly hole flooded to create the picturesque Blue Lake – now beautiful for swimming and kayaking. There are fine examples of 19th-century mining-town architecture including the old Post Office (unusually for this tree-bare landscape, built of solid kauri). Other original cottages are made from the more common hand-cut local schist (as is Lombardy Cottage) and the old jail is one of several corrugated iron-sided buildings.
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